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GDPR, SARS and the High Net Worth

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) celebrated its second birthday in May this year. The regulation which governs the use of personal data by European businesses and dishes out hefty fines for breaches caused panic amongst many organisations as they scrambled to ensure that they were compliant ahead of it coming into force.

Two years on, the GDPR has its critics in abundance, who point to the enormous expense of implementing the regulation, the regulatory inconvenience it causes and the strain it has placed on small medium enterprises and, in particular, those within the technology sector.

But what about the impact on individuals? Aside from being inundated with updated corporate privacy policies and consent forms, the impact of GDPR has been minimal.

That said, the issue of data protection is a significant one for the high net worth. These individuals are very likely to have an international footprint, so the transfer of data between countries and the interaction of the data protection and privacy laws within other countries should be taken into account, to ensure both compliance and protection of data.

High Net Worth Individuals or (HNWI)s may also have a public profile or extensive social media following and in some cases their reputation or “personal brand” has significant economic value. An individual may wish to protect their brand by enforcing their rights to correct or delete personal data, as well as ensuring the secure retention of data with a view to controlling the dissemination of certain information.

One particular area of data protection law that can be particularly useful to HNWs, however, is subject access requests (SARs). SARs could be made prior to the implementation of the GDPR, albeit that the GDPR has introduced some changes to the procedure.

SARs are requests made by individuals to any business or organisation regarding any personal data of theirs that is being held and how it is being used. It can be made not only to tech companies and other commercial outfits but also, more interestingly, employers, media outlets and lawyers. There are bases for the recipients of these requests to decline them, but these exceptions are fairly narrow and – with some significant exceptions – largely untested in the courts.

At a time when transparency in financial affairs and ownership of assets is being imposed by governments across the world, SARs are an increasingly important tool for limiting what third parties know about you and how they use that information.

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